“The breaking of so great a thing should make a greater crack.” – Shakespeare
The power of fire is not that it burns
But that it distracts:
We save what burns because it burns.
What goes up in flames comes down in ash,
And ash is cremation:
We do not want to die.
There is no suffering in wood, stone, glass,
No Resurrection in their rebuilding:
Only flesh, blood, and bone feel pain.
Never has a candle saved a life,
And though the thirteen-ton bell rings clear
And the stained-glass awes,
Injustice has neither ears nor eyes:
The centuries grow heavy with war, revolution, poverty,
Buttressed by our sanguine belief in tomorrow.
When the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris was ablaze
I did not cry—I was already sad, already felt the decay
Of great things breaking all around me.
I just wanted to ask the firefighters:
Could you have as quickly, desperately,
Brought clean water to the poor?
To ask the billionaires:
Did you sell your yachts, your cars?
How did you spare so much money so fast?
And to ask the leaders of the world,
The priests, the mourners, the press,
The Parisians, the tourists, the public:
In lighting myself on fire,
Might you be similarly moved?
And what if Notre Dame,
Old, venerable, and angry,
Had intended to burn to the ground
As you watched with awe-struck eyes?
Sunday, May 5, 2019